TWO journalists arrested for trespassing in a marine protected area
were found guilty and fined N$5 000 each in the Swakopmund Magistrates’
Court on Friday, writes Adam Hartman in The Namibian.

The court appearance and sentencing followed South African filmmaker Bart Smithers’ and British investigative journalist Jim Wickens’ arrest on Thursday while they were filming Namibia’s annual seal cull at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve.

On Friday both journalists pleaded guilty to a single charge of trespassing in a marine protected area, with a stipulated fine of N$500 000 or 12 years imprisonment under the Namibian Marine Resources Act.

Magistrate Harris Salionga said their offence was “very serious”, but because it was their first offence, they were fined N$10 000 each, of which N$5 000 was suspended for five years, or 12 months imprisonment of which six months would be suspended for five years, with the condition that they are not found guilty of the same offence during this period.

“Considering the large penalty under the Namibian Marine Resources Act, it shows that our legislation goes to great lengths to protect our marine resources and marine areas,” Salionga said. “We take what you did as very serious, but this being your first offence and because of your mitigating circumstances, we have decided to penalise you with this.”

Smithers and Wickens paid the fine and left Namibia.

Click here to read the full report, posted on The Namibian's website.